Release Blitz – Reckless by Brittany Crowley

 

Title: Reckless

Series: Bound by Cage #4

Author: Brittany Crowley

Genre: Sports Romance

Release Date: January 24, 2018

 

Blurb

 

Kyle- I’m MMA’s notorious bad boy, taking down opponents is what I do
best. Groupies fall at my feet and everyone bends over backwards to please me.


In my world I’m the king.

But what if living my life full throttle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Looking into my son’s eyes makes me realize there’s more… maybe I’ve screwed
up these last five years. But can I change?

Sophie- Sometimes in life timing is everything. I was meant to love Kyle Cage
but it wasn’t our time. Our story wasn’t meant to be written.

Instead I was left with a broken heart and a little boy that reminds me
everyday of the man I loved so many years ago. But my son makes me want to do
better, be stronger and I’m determined to give us a good life.



Now Kyle’s back in town and he wants a chance to know his son, to be in our
lives. Can I get past the hurt? Can he be the father Gabe deserves?



Time will tell. I just hope my heart holds out long enough for him to prove
himself.

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99c for a limited time
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99c for a limited time
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Author Bio

 

Brittany Crowley was born and raised in Massachusetts. She still lives there today with her husband and 3 kids. Getting into the world of romance after she had her first child, she was hooked. Though she had many ideas in her head, Brittany was unsure if she had what it took to become a writer. A few encouraging words and one writing challenge later, she completed her first book. Now you can find her trying to keep up with her crazy kids and writing any chance she gets.
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Review – XO, Zach by Kendall Ryan

REVIEW:

I adore Ms. Ryan’s work and XO, Zach was no exception.  A little bit sweeter and a little less spicy than most of her other work, it was a refreshing change and it made this book stand out.  Zach, our hero, saves the day, and captures the attention of our heroine, Poppy…who does a pretty awesome job of trying to hide her attraction.  She sets clear rules (and she has good reason for this) but Zach quickly realizes that her rules are something he wants to break…over and over again.  I really liked Zach.  He was mellow and heroic, without all the flash and caveman tendencies typical heroes have.  I loved that he was slipping letters secretly to Poppy…it was adorably romantic.  Poppy, however, was a tough nut to crack.  I adored the fact the Poppy was determined to make her way and she has a secret that pushes her to strive for the excellence she seeks.   At first her stubbornness annoyed me but I quickly came around!   Her drive and determination made me take notice and I liked her all the more for it.  These two have some pretty great chemistry and I was blown away when they finally succumb to all the pheromones they are emitting.  I really liked Zach’s family and they added a huge touch of humor to this book.  And, of course, Poppy’s “secret” was amazing and Zach’s reaction was the final nail in his coffin and made me irrevocably fall completely in love with him!!!! Overall, this was an enjoyable story full of love and emotion with very little angst and a whole lotta sweetness.  4 stars.

 

The first time we met was at a party.

Your ex arrived to show off the person he’d left you for last month, and you asked me to pretend to be your date.

I was more than happy to help. You were attractive, smart and witty–and that kiss we shared? It left me wanting you for days.

The second time we met was in my office on campus where we were both surprised to discover you were the new master’s degree student in poetry that I would be working with. You promised to be professional. I did no such thing.

The late nights and intense study sessions spent alongside you majorly throw me off my game. I want you, and I fight with myself daily over this fact.

I know I’m crass, that my sexual innuendos and dirty mouth annoy you, but I live for those two bright spots of color in your cheeks. If that’s the only reaction I can get out of you, I’ll gladly take it.

You hate Mondays so every Monday I slip an anonymous poem into your bag and your smile gets me through the week.

I think I’m falling for you, and I know it’s wrong. I know that I’m only supposed to be your adviser and nothing more, but here’s the thing. I think you’re falling for me too.

xo, Zach

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A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

Visit her at: www.kendallryanbooks.com for the latest book news, and fun extras

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Release Blitz – Angel’s Halo: Fallen Angel by Terri Anne Browning

Title: Angel’s Halo: Fallen Angel
Series: Angel’s Halo MC #6
Author: Terri Anne Browning
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: January 23, 2018

 

Blurb
There are always casualties of war…
Matt
When I lost Rory, I lost everything. Her father ripped her
away from me, and I didn’t see her again for three long years.
Now, she is back in my life, and I’m not about to let anyone
take her away from me again.
Rory
My heart stopped the second I heard about the explosion, and
it didn’t beat again until I knew Matt was safe. But even as my prayers were
answered, my heart hurt for him. 
While I couldn’t stop Matt’s pain at losing Tanner, maybe I
could stop my father from destroying the MC.

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One
Rory
Three Years Earlier



“AURORA? HONEY, IS THAT YOU?” 

I paused outside my mother’s bedroom, frozen as I fought internally with
whether or not to go in. My mom had been bedridden for the last three weeks.
When I saw her the day before, she had looked even more fragile than the day
before that. She was getting sicker by the day—by the damn hour—and it hurt to
see her that way. 
She had only been diagnosed with gastric lymphoma two months ago, but the
doctors said there was nothing they could do. It had been left too long, and it
had already spread. If she was lucky, she would have six months. At least, that
was what they had said four weeks ago. But that was before Sabrina Michaels
hadn’t been able to get out of bed. It was before she had started vomiting
blood at the end of every day. It was before she had given up. 
Now, hospice came in once a day, to make sure she was comfortable, and to make
sure the new live-in nurse my father had hired knew what to do in case something
happened. 
Because it could happen any day now. There was no way to determine just how
long my mother had, and it was breaking my heart. 
Slowly, I opened the door to the bedroom that had been my mother’s sanctuary
for years, her own little slice of heaven that only a few people in the
universe were allowed to share with her. I was one of the lucky few, but that
privilege didn’t extend to my father. They had kept separate rooms since before
I was a teenager. 
My gaze went straight to the hospital bed that was only one of many new
additions to the décor of the room. There was a heart monitor on a rolling cart
beside the bed, along with an IV stand, pushing fluids and blood into Mom. She
had a feeding tube in now because eating just wasn’t possible these days. 
Timidly, I approached the bed, and my mother gave me a weak smile as she lifted
a thin hand. 
“How was your date last night, my love?” 
My own smile was shaky, but I forced it to stay in place as I sat on the edge
of the hospital bed that practically swallowed up the tiny woman. “Matt took me
out to this old field, and we watched stars for a few hours.” 
It wasn’t a complete lie. We had gone to an old field, and he had spread out a
thick blanket. He’d held me close while shooting stars had fallen across the
sky, but my eyes hadn’t been on them. They had been wet and swollen as I had
cried out my grief for my mother against his chest. 
He hadn’t said a word the entire time. Just rubbed his fingers up and down my
back and let me cry it all out because he knew how much my mom meant to me. He
knew how much I was going to lose when she took her last breath. Sabrina wasn’t
just my mom. She was my best friend, and when she passed away, it would be just
my father and me. 
A man who would try to control every aspect of my life. But Mom had stood in
his way for years now, ensuring that I had my own life, that I could be free
from him and his manipulations. Once she was gone, though, that would change.
We all knew that. 
“He sounds like a good boy,” my mother murmured now, but I heard the underlying
question. 
“He is a good boy,” I assured her with a slightly stronger smile this time. But
this time, I was telling her a full-blown lie. 
Matt Reid wasn’t a boy; he was a man. His twenty-one to my seventeen could cause
some serious trouble if we weren’t careful. And being a part of the Angel’s
Halo MC probably didn’t make him a “good boy,” not when both my father and
Creswell Springs’ DA were constantly trying to arrest someone from the
motorcycle club. I wasn’t stupid; I knew Matt probably did illegal things when
he was off on “runs” that took him away from me for days at a time. 
The truth was, I didn’t care what he was doing for the MC when he left. All I
cared about was that he stayed loyal to me, that he only ever loved me, and
that it was my mouth he kissed like he couldn’t get enough of my taste when he
got home. That was all that mattered to me. I could live with the rest. 
“We haven’t had sex yet,” I assured her when she continued to just look up at
me with that question in her eyes. “We want to wait until the time is
right.” 
Which could have been any day in the three months since I had met him. Lord
knew I would have willingly handed over my virginity to him the first time I
had seen him at Hannigans’ the night I’d gone in on a dare. But like everyone
else in Creswell Springs, he had known exactly who I was. Which meant he knew
just how old I was, and while some of the brothers in his club were into
jailbait, he wasn’t one of them. 
But he was just as addicted to me as I was to him, and instead of telling me to
fuck off, he had asked to see me again. He called me every day, texted me all
the time, and we saw each other as much as possible without my father finding
out. Because if Derrick Michaels ever figured out that his only child was
dating one of the MC members, he would lose his mind—and then arrest
Matt. 
“Tell me what else you’ve been up to,” Mom urged as she shifted uncomfortably,
repositioning herself until she could find a small semblance of relief. 
I reached for the IV stand and picked up the little button that would
automatically dispense the powerful narcotics that would ease her pain. 
“No, darling. Don’t do that just yet. I lose track of time when I use those
damned meds. They confuse me, and I want to focus on you right now.” 
Hating that she was in pain, but wanting to give her what she asked for, I
replaced the button and sat back, filling her in on everything that had
happened since I had seen her the evening before. There wasn’t much to tell her,
so I told her more about my date with Matt. 
“He keeps talking about the future, as if he wants me to be a part of his life
forever.” 
Mom’s green eyes, which had once been the same shade as mine, were now dimmed
with the yellowing of the whites from jaundice and the pain she was in
constantly. But they brightened just a little when I told her about Matt. “He
really does sound like a good boy, Aurora.” 
“I love him, Mom,” I confessed. It was the first time I had said it out loud to
anyone other than Matt, but it felt good to tell her. 
“It makes me feel better that you will have someone who will be here for you
when I’m gone,” she murmured weakly, leaning her head back and closing her
eyes. 
Tears instantly pricked my eyes, but I held them back like a levee holding back
the sea. “Don’t talk like that, Mom. We still have plenty of time
together.” 
We both knew I was only lying to myself, and when she opened her pain-filled
eyes, the look in them told me that. “It won’t be long now, my baby. I can feel
myself fading a little more every hour.” 
“Mom, no,” I whispered brokenly. 
“Yes, sweetheart. But I want you to know that I love you. You were the best
thing to ever happen to me. You are my greatest joy and my greatest sorrow.”
Two fat tears fell from her eyes, but she didn’t seem to have the strength to
lift her hands and wipe them away. 
Reaching for a tissue, I mopped away the tears and tightened the hold on my
own. “I love you too, Mom. You are my best friend. You’re my favorite person in
the world, and I don’t want to lose you.” 
“You won’t,” she whispered. “I will always be here for you. I will always take
care of you and watch over you.” Her icy fingers wrapped around my wrist and
tightened so hard I knew she was using the last of her energy to do it. “When
you turn twenty-one, you won’t ever have to worry about anything. I’ve made
sure of that. Just try to put up with your father until then, Aurora. After
your twenty-first birthday, you can walk away from him and never look back, I
promise.” 
“I don’t want anything but you!” I whispered as the first tear broke the
barrier and spilled free. “I would give up everything if I could keep you,
Mommy.” 
Weak hands pulled my head down onto her chest, and my tears flooded over my
lashes, soaking into her silky nightgown. “Shh, my baby. It will be okay. I
promise. You’ll be just fine.”

 

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Author Bio

Terri Anne Browning is multiple USA TODAY bestselling
author. Being dyslexic, she never thought a career in writing would be
possible, yet she has been on best selling lists multiple times since 2013.
Reese: A Safe Haven Novella was her first Indie published book. The Rocker Who
Holds Me changed the tables and kicked off The Rocker… series featuring the
sinfully delicious members of Demon’s Wings. The Rocker… Series is now
complete with 12 books and the occasional novella. Other books by Terri Anne
include the Angel’s Halo MC Series, as well as The Lucy & Harris Novella
Series, The Vitucci Mafiosos Series, and The Tainted Knights Rocker Series.
Terri Anne lives in Virginia with her husband, their three
demons—err, children–and a hyper Frenchie named Grunt.
Terri Anne’s Reading Order:
Angel’s Halo MC Series:
Angel’s Halo
Angel’s Halo: Entangled
Angel’s Halo: Guardian Angel
Angel’s Halo: Reclaimed
Angel’s Halo: Atonement

Angel’s Halo: Fallen Angel

Author Links

Review – Doctor Babymaker by Madison Faye

REVIEW:

Super dirty, super fast, and super fun….these are the most accurate descriptions for Madison Faye’s newest book, Doctor Babymaker.  Trust me when I say “super dirty” because Jackson has got the mouth of a devil and the body of a God.  He uses both of these to his advantage when it comes to our heroine, sweet and virginal Ada.  I think they were both fun and well written characters…but I honestly enjoyed the dirty mouths on both of them the most!  They made me blush numerous times.  This book is very quick…I read it in just under 45 minutes, so it’s perfect if you are looking for down and dirty, instant-love, and baby-making but are very short on time!  Throw in a crazy ex, some over-protective parents, and office sex, and you come up with the perfect recipe for delightfully erotic reading!  4 stars.

Title: Doctor Babymaker
Author: Madison Faye
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 22, 2018
Blurb

 

The doctor is in. Every inch of him…
 
I’m the youngest, brightest, and most hotshot medical director the fertility clinic’s ever seen. Nothing gets between me and my job, until Ada Chase walks in.
 
I’m not supposed to touch her, at least, not in the way I want to. She’s off limits in so many ways. Too rich. Too innocent. Too never-been-touched.
 
…Too much my patient.
 
The sheltered young heiress is in my office so her rich, shitty family can see if she’s capable of bearing children. And I’m supposed to examine her – every inch of her sweet, tempting body –to check.
 
But I’ve wanted her since the instant I laid eyes on her, and now I’m obsessed, possessed, and driven like I’ve never been before.
 
First, I’m going to make her beg.
 
Second, I’ll make her mine.
 
And third? Well, third is the best part.
 
Third is me putting a baby in that soft young belly. And after that, I’ll steal her away from all of this. Fuck the medical code of conduct, forget professionalism, and damn the consequences.
 
Oh, Ada can bear children alright.
 
…so long as they’re mine.
 
 
I know what you’re thinking – this sounds like dirty, filthy doctor-fantasy smut. And if you’re thinking that, the good news is, you’re entirely correct ;). This book is hot and heavy insta-love and lust at its finest, with a dominant alpha hero completely obsessed with breeding and claiming his untouched heroine. Safe, no cheating, and a HEA guaranteed.
 
The doctor will see you take you now…

 

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Author Bio
#1 bestselling contemporary romance author Madison Faye is
the dirty alter ego of the very wholesome, very normal suburban housewife
behind the stories. While she might be a wife, mom, and PTA organizer on the
outside, there’s nothing but hot, steamy, and raunchy fantasies brewing right
beneath the surface!


Tired of keeping them hidden inside or only having them come out in the
bedroom, they’re all here in the form of some wickedly hot stories.
Single-minded alpha hero, sinfully taboo relationships, and wildly over-the-top
scenarios. If you love it extra dirty, extra hot, and extra naughty, this is
the place for you! (Just don’t tell the other PTA members you saw her here…)



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starter-library books! 
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Release Blitz – Mend by Chelle Bliss

From USA Today bestselling author Chelle Bliss comes a feel-good, sexy second-chance STANDALONE romance.

Six years ago, the only girl I ever loved moved away.
She said she’d come back to me.
She promised she’d write.
She swore she’d always be mine, but Evie Bailey lied.

Now, Evie’s back, and this time, I’m not letting her go without a fight.

Before senior year, I was forced to move away, leaving behind the only boy I ever loved.
He said he’d love me forever.
He promised nothing would tear us apart.
He swore he’d wait for me, but Jack Nelson lied.

Now, Jack wants to make me his again, but he may never be able to forgive my sins.

AMAZONchellebliss.com/mend-amz

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IBOOKS chellebliss.com/mend-ibooks

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Mend Release Giveaway

Chelle Bliss is the USA Today bestselling author of Misadventures of a City Girl, the Men of Inked series, Enshrine, and the ALFA Investigations series. She hails from the Midwest, but currently lives near the beach even though she hates sand. She’s a full-time writer, time-waster extraordinaire, social media addict, coffee fiend, and ex high school history teacher. She loves spending time with her two cats, alpha boyfriend, and chatting with readers.

Where to follow and connect with Chelle Bliss

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Blog Tour – Finding A Husband by Kristen Casey

Today we have the blog tour for FINDING A HUSBAND by Kristen Casey! Check out the tour and grab your copy today!

Title: FINDING A HUSBAND

Author: Kristen Casey

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Finding a Husband:

Molly O’Connell does not need a man. Boston is filled with men, few of them reliable. What she does need is a job, and she knows exactly which one she wants—there’s a law firm hiring down in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it’s an ideal opportunity. Warm weather, pristine beaches, a reliable paycheck…how could she go wrong? Heck, her brother-in-law has even hooked her up with a tour guide. It’s perfect.

Jake Alexander knows Molly is off-limits. Man, does he ever know. But when he agreed to show her around town as a favor to a friend, he never expected her to be quite so incredible. Gorgeous. Unforgettable. And his total inability to think of anything but her is going to be trouble with a capital T. Molly, bless her heart, is interviewing with his dad’s law firm—and if his guess is right, she’s a shoo-in. And Jake…well, he’s sort of engaged. God help him, he probably should have mentioned that right from the beginning.

Why does Molly have to fall for the one man in creation she shouldn’t want? And can she make a life for herself in this new place without him? Wait and see.

Book Three in the Second Chances series. This book contains no cliff hangers, no cheating, and one guaranteed happily-ever-after!

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EXCERPT:

The pool sparkled in its frame of white pavers—a gleaming blue rectangle beckoning from the lawn. Molly was nearly running, she was walking toward it so fast. He chuckled. This might’ve been the best idea he’d had all week.

And that impression went double once she started stripping. She didn’t even wait for him—just toed off her sandals and shucked her jeans, dropping them on a chaise lounge angled toward the afternoon sun. In a minute more, her shirt was up and over her head—Jake caught the briefest glimpse of a demure set of pale pink lingerie—and then Molly was airborne, jumping feet-first into the deep end. She swam underwater like a mermaid, finally coming up for air near the center of the pool. Her hair was slicked back on her skull, as shining and dark as melted chocolate. Jake was frozen to the spot by So. Much. Molly. All on display for him. God—she was really, really wet.

She grinned up at him, splashing some water his way. “Come on, what are you waiting for? You big chicken!”

Jake’s lungs rediscovered that great thing called air. He stalked closer, sat on the chaise, and pulled off his t-shirt and boots. Molly tried like hell to maintain her teasing expression but her eyes betrayed her, settling on his chest and staying there. Jake stood slowly, undid his jeans with shaking fingers, and dropped them to the ground. He walked to the edge and looked down at her, knowing Molly would see exactly what she was doing to him—wanting her to see. Jake was hard as a boat mast, and his boxer briefs didn’t hide a thing.

Molly’s face went blank and he watched her swallow, the tendons in her neck shifting and catching the light. She paddled her arms back and forth in the water—once. Twice. Jake flexed his toes and leaped, tucking into a cannonball and landing three feet behind her. He heard the beginning of Molly’s scream half a second before he went under.

Two seconds later, Jake was sucking in air and lunging for her. Molly was too busy swiping the water from her face to see him coming, so he had the advantage. He wrapped her wet, delectable body in his arms and dropped his mouth straight to hers.

Molly met him eagerly, opening her lips and granting him entry. Jake’s tongue dove hard and deep, dancing with hers in the hottest kiss they’d shared yet—and that was really saying something. Her bra and panties had gone mostly sheer now that they were soaked, and the combination of that peekaboo effect and all of her wet, glorious skin sliding against his was driving Jake wild. He pulled her legs around his waist and kissed and kissed her. Never, ever wanting it to end. Molly hung on tight, her ankles locked together at his lower back and her arms snug around his neck. Somehow, instead of feeling caged, it made Jake feel free. Like he’d made it out of prison and into the great wide world beyond.

 

CATCH UP ON THE SERIES!

Finding Home (book one):

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Finding Love (book two):

Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Australian | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Smashword | Paperback

Lost in Love (book 2.5) :

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About Kristen Casey:

Kristen Casey writes heartfelt contemporary romances with plenty of heat, relatable characters, and witty dialogue. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two kids, and assorted cats, and in her free time enjoys all things crafty—especially projects she discovers on Pinterest.
To stay up to date on what Kristen is working on now, and to learn more about her books, visit her website at https://kristencasey.com/ or subscribe to her Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/ctGk1j

Connect with Kristen:

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Excerpt Reveal – Rock King by Tara Leigh

Today we have an excerpt from ROCK KING by Tara Leigh! I’m so excited to share this with you—be sure to grab your copy on Feb 20th!

Title: ROCK KING

Author: Tara Leigh

Genre: Rockstar Romance

Release Day: Feb 20th

About Rock King:

Fans of Kristen Callihan and Kylie Scott will scream for this sizzling bad boy rock star romance!

I’m not who you think I am.

Shane Hawthorne has it all. At least, that’s what the headlines say about me. I have millions of fans, awards, more money – and women – than I know what to do with. But what you don’t see is the wreckage I’ve caused. The memories and pain I can’t escape, even when I pour them into music and spin them into gold.

I tried to forget. To lose myself in booze and groupies. It didn’t work. It hurt me and – worse – it hurt my band. That’s the last thing I want to do, so I’m cleaning up my act… starting with Delaney Fraser.

Gorgeous, smart, drama-free, and even nice – Delaney is the perfect “girlfriend.” When I’m with her I don’t have to pretend. It’s like she sees the real me. And I can see a future with her. But that’s dangerous. Because the truth is, Shane Hawthorne doesn’t actually exist. He’s a shield to hide who I really am. Fraud. Runaway. Addict. Murderer.

And it’s impossible to love a lie, right?

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The Nothing but Trouble series:

Rock King

Rock Legend

Rock Rebel

Exclusive Excerpt:

Shane Hawthorne.

Seriously, I could get lost in his face and enjoy every minute of my journey. Glide across the high plane of his forehead, cartwheel down the sharp angles of his cheekbones, slide along his jaw to land at his mouth. Full lips, slightly crooked at one corner, smiled down at me.

Up close, Shane’s longish hair was a river of brown, from dusky caramel to burnished mahogany, threaded through with shades of henna, chocolate, and deepest umber. He wore a snug black button-down shirt, setting off his tall, buff physique perfectly, the sleeves rolled up just enough to catch traces of ink on his tanned forearms, leaving me fighting an urge to push aside the fabric and expose everything that remained hidden. I longed for a pocket to stuff my hands into, settling instead for awkwardly wrapping both around my sweating glass.

Shane eyed me curiously, as if he knew I didn’t belong. As if he knew the direction of my wholly inappropriate thoughts. “I guess you’re here for me, then.” A grin spread across his face, punctuated by a sexy-as-hell dimple in his left cheek.

“Me?” I choked. What on earth would Shane Hawthorne want with me? I swallowed thickly, my eyes darting around for Piper. I am so out of my league.

With a hand in the back pocket of his ragged jeans, Shane followed the path of my anxious stare. “Expecting someone?”

My focus snapped back to Shane’s face. “No.” I shook my head. “Sorry. This is just so not me. I don’t wind up at Beverly Hills parties talking to rock stars. I mean, this is crazy.” My fingers twitched. There was no part of him I could look at without wanting to touch—especially the two-day growth of scruff covering his strong jaw, which practically guaranteed goose bumps if it brushed along any part of my anatomy.

“Imagine how I feel.”

I tilted my head. “You?”

“Yeah. I’m usually stuck in a tour bus or chartered plane flying to some city I won’t actually see. But tonight I’m at a Beverly Hills party where I don’t really know anyone, besides my agent and a few industry suits, talking to the most gorgeous girl in the place. Pretty lucky, huh?”

Feeling like a complete idiot, I looked around again. And then I pointed at my collarbone with my index finger. “Me?” I repeated.

Shane threw back his head and laughed. Instantly I wished I could record the sound on my phone so I could play it on repeat. Forever. It was the most delicious noise I’d ever heard. “Yeah, you. Where did you come from, anyway?”

“Bronxville,” I squeaked.

Shane laughed even harder. When he finally got control of himself, he brushed at his eyes. “And do you have a name, or should I just call you Bronx all night?”

All night. “Delaney. Delaney Fraser.” I extended my hand.

“I’m Shane.” Offering his last name would have been redundant. Shane’s fingers closed around mine, the pad of his thumb pressing into the center of my palm.

I nearly groaned. Please don’t let go, ever. “Would I sound like a groupie if I said I already knew that?”

He quirked a rich, sable brow. “Are you a groupie?”

I shook my head. “No. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a fan.” Since high school, when lusting after rock stars I’d never meet was safer than talking to boys I encountered in my real life, who eyed my chubby body and frizzy hair with barely disguised revulsion.

“I do love my fans.” Shane’s throaty growl pulsed in my ears, and for a moment I let myself believe he might be flirting with me. But then I looked down, a blush staining my cheeks as a sea of uncomfortable memories rushed in. Get a grip, Delaney. Why would Shane Hawthorne ever be interested you? All those years of awkwardness, of feeling so uncomfortable I almost couldn’t bear it, were still trapped inside me even though my reflection in the mirror had changed.

Shane lifted his other hand to my jaw, pulling my gaze back to him. “Don’t do that.”

His fingertips were hot, controlling my blood flow like some kind of stylus. I could feel it rushing to the surface of my skin, surging to meet Shane’s touch. “Do what?” I asked, my voice a ragged whisper.

“Look away from me. I like feeling your eyes on my face.” He balled his hand into a fist against my cheek, stroking my flesh with his knuckles, each touch erasing a tiny piece of the self-conscious teen living inside me.

Knowing this was probably the last time I would be so close, I studied Shane. Memorized his face. His lips, I decided, were almost too full to belong on a man’s face. Tried to imagine how they would feel on mine.

“If you keep looking at my mouth like that, I won’t be held responsible for what happens next.” Shane’s comment interrupted my perusal.

Color me gullible, but I couldn’t help myself. “What would happen?” I breathed. There was a moment before Shane answered, a moment when I lost myself in his eyes. His pupils were black flies caught within a whorl of amber. My heart thudded inside my chest, trapped by the darkness I saw within the depths of his gaze. Shane Hawthorne wasn’t just some vapid one-dimensional celebrity. He bristled with intensity. And even in the center of a Beverly Hills party, punctuated by popping corks and trying-too-hard laughs, waves of danger rolled off Shane’s broad shoulders, swirling around me like the chilly waters of the Pacific.

I should have been scared. I was, actually. But not scared off. I wanted to meld my body against Shane’s taut length, potential groupie status be damned. Desire filled my lungs, every breath a heady cocktail, and I swayed toward him, catching myself just before crashing into the perfectly carved statue wrapped in tight jeans and a shirt that did nothing to hide his rippling abs.

Shane stood still, watching the flicker of emotions on my face with interest. “Maybe we should go somewhere else. Somewhere with a lot less people. Somewhere we could both be wearing a lot less clothes.”

Pulling my eyes away from Shane’s blistering gaze, I looked down at the trail of feverish skin exposed by the plunging neckline of my borrowed dress. “I don’t think I could wear anything less and still be considered dressed.” I didn’t even recognize myself right now. Was I flirting?

His laugh was a caress, the rich timbre soothing nerves rubbed raw by his overwhelming presence. “That’s my point. Exactly.”

Breath punched from my lungs and I staggered back a step. Shane didn’t mince words, did he? I raised my face back to his, just as he reclaimed the distance I’d put between us.

“Let’s go,” he added, one of his hands reaching out to cup my elbow.

A shiver tore through me at Shane’s blunt command, reality hitting hard from the shock of his palm sliding against my skin. Instinct made me step back, out of reach. I didn’t have room in my life for Shane Hawthorne. He was a distraction I couldn’t afford. There was only one man I should be focused on right now, and he was sitting in a jail cell. Because of me. I was the only one who knew he was innocent, except he’d made me promise not to say anything. I was free because of him, but feeling alive—smiling and laughing and having fun. It had been three years since any of those things felt appropriate, or even possible.

Tonight, I did feel alive. And I was smiling and laughing and having fun. God, it felt so good. And so wrong.

There was a woman lying in a cold grave tonight whose laugh I would never hear again.

What Shane was offering—more of this, of him, of feeling this way—terrified me. Spending the night with Shane Hawthorne, or even just a few hours, would either be knock-my-socks-off amazing, or a bitter disappointment. Either way, when he walked away from me without a second glance, I’d be crushed.

I had reached my quota of broken dreams already. One more might break me.

“Sorry. That’s not who I am.” I forced the words out through gritted teeth, the quivering kaleidoscope of butterflies in my stomach launching a winged protest. I’d already started to walk away when Shane grabbed my arm, pulling me so close I could feel the washboard of muscles ridging his abdomen. His touch seared my skin, melting my willpower.

“Who are you?” he whispered in my ear. Shane’s breath was hot along my neck, sending ripples of need racing in all directions before making their way to one spot in particular. Throbbing en masse.

My resolve wavered, desperate to claim the promise shining from Shane’s eyes. The promise that he’d outshine everything in my world for just a few minutes. That he’d make me forget about the wrecking ball that had slammed into my life and shattered everything I’d ever believed in. But this kind of reaction, just from a touch…No. Any more and I’d go into toxic shock.

I glanced around, not wanting to make a scene, wrenching my arm from Shane’s grasp with a small grunt and forcing words past my lips that left a bitter taste in my mouth. “No one you want to know.”

About Tara Leigh:

Tara Leigh attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.

 

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